Yes, it's true, I saw Keith Jarrett perform for the first time last night - at Carnegie Hall. Yup, the cherry's forever popped now. There, I said it. Phew. I feel a little better already.
To put it mildly, I was feeling embarrassed and self-conscious about losing my virginity so publicly. Especially at my age. Worst of all, it felt like everyone knew just how chaste a life I'd lived (my tepid clapping the first dead giveaway).
For Christsake! This wasn't hanky panky on the downlow at a romantic little night club. Surrounded by libidinous loons making the type of clamor generally reserved for Justin Bieber or Mick Jagger (depending on one's age and gender I guess) I felt completely exposed (no riotous whooping or Bravo! the second telltale sign). Carnegie had all the sensuality of a fucking (a shamefully obvious pun) stadium!
If only I had been afforded some quiet, intimate place where I could've hid my innocence, my inexperience and ultimately...it's so hard to admit in these delicate matters - dissapointment. The first time's supposed to be extra special goddamnit!
Mr. Jarrett appearing at Carnegie Hall, even if it's for the 18 millionth time, is still ipso facto a HISTORICAL event.
Alright already. Stop your whispering, the snide remarks made behind my back at the precise amplitude required for audibility. "Sex is sex [or Jarrett is Jarrett for the more literal minded among you] so first time or not be grateful." I know, I know, but this was Keith Jarrett when what I had so eagerly anticipated was KEITH JARRETT. Can one be grateful and sulk simultaneously?
Don't misunderstand. His performance was perfectly enjoyable. A splendid respite, a much needed and serendipitously timed balm after absorbing and carefully extracting the metaphysical shrapnel left by Iranian Director Asghar Farhadi's brilliant new film, A Separation (more to follow in a subsequent post) earlier in the afternoon.
Most of the Jarrettian hallmarks were evident: The light touch even in rhythmically assertive passages; the interspersion of ballads sentimental and irresistible; the continued trend of shorter rather than extended improvisations; moments of genuine inspiration in the form of surprise endings that refocused my wandering attention; the amusing physicality of his performance style - standing, crouching, grunting; the obsequious audience approval resulting in several encore performances (and it was here, at the climax, you could intuit him feeding off the energy in the hall - though by this point it felt more like a dribble than a spurt).
Nonetheless, the gig (as opposed to "concert," sorta like sex, as opposed to "making love") will be remembered as much for his variations on the theme of apologizing (delivered over the course of the evening with great good humor and gracious humility) for his legendary attacks on his admirers as for his unmistakable sound. These playful mea culpas had all the inverse qualities usually associated with the Bad Boy of jazz piano even if so many of us secretly (though not me of course) lusted for his next rant as we uttered our disgust at such distasteful antics.
Now that was SEX! That was a performance!